A qualitative study of the impact of surprises and challenges on the identity-building and socialization of new principals

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Ashley Weinkle Triplett (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Carl Lashley

Abstract: The role of the school principal is an important one. Nettles and Herrington (2007) confirmed, “the school principal is regarded as critical to school success and student achievement” (p. 729). Every year, new leaders are needed to fill this vital role as a result of the high rates of principal turnover (Browne-Ferrigno, 2003; Stevenson, 2006). New principals, however, must quickly adapt to their new role; “. . . a newly appointed principal is expected to take on the full set of responsibilities (Galdames, Montecinos, Campos, Ahumada, & Leiva, 2008, p. 319). Research into the unique experiences of new principals is vital due to the importance of the principal’s role. This research study illuminates the challenges these individuals will face in pursuit of the goals set forth for their schools and has the potential to ultimately help better support and prepare new principals. This study was a qualitative study that involved five participants and data collected through a series of four interviews, three focus groups, and participant reflective journaling through the first 8 months new principals in Cross Keys County Schools were in their roles. All participants participated in each of four interviews and attended at least one of the three focus groups. Participation in reflective journaling was limited. The data collection and analysis were intended to address the following research questions: "What do new principals believe the principalship is like as they begin their work?"; "How do the surprises and challenges new principals encounter support their socialization into the principalship?"; and "How do the surprises and challenges new principals encounter influence their emergent and professional identity?" Understanding these challenges and being aware of the specific knowledge and skills principals need can help new principals to ease the transition into the role and can minimize the challenges and surprises they encounter, particularly given the high number of new principals in the local district and the potential impact on the students they serve. The following themes emerged from the analysis of data collected and existing research. The new principals in this study clarified and realized their core values in their new role. They also developed meaningful relationships with stakeholders and this partnership enabled them to build a positive school culture. Confidence in their abilities increased over time and this confidence enabled them to leverage their power and positionality. The new principals focused on cultural leadership and struggled to focus on instructional leadership. Finally, new principals largely socialized within the school setting with families, students, and staff members as opposed to others within the organization.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2018
Educational leadership, Identity-building, New principals, Socialization
First year school principals
Elementary school principals
Professional socialization
Educational leadership
Identity (Psychology)

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